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Including an ethical will in an estate plan

While an ethical will is not an actual binding legal document, it serves an important and meaningful purpose. New York residents can use an ethical will to pass on certain values that they hold dear.

An ethical will is much like an attachment to one's financial will. While the financial will passes tangible property to the heirs, the ethical will passes on what is intangible. While this may seem unnecessary for some, a growing number of financial advisors are encouraging clients to include an ethical will into their estate plans.

It is important for people to review their estate plan regularly. During one of those reviews, they can write an ethical will. An ethical will, also called a legacy letter, is a personalized letter that outlines the testator's values and traditions he or she hopes the heirs would possess. It can include practical advice to direct heirs to how to use their inheritance wisely. Further, it could express how testators want their heirs to remember them and point out important guidelines and lessons about life.

When it comes to a person's financial legacy, there are three essential documents. The will outlines how testators want their assets distributed and appoints a guardian to take care of any surviving minor children. The durable power of attorney designates an individual who will decide how the testator's finances should be used in the event the testator becomes incapacitated. The advanced health care directive with medical power of attorney gives authority to an appointed person who will make medical decisions if the testator becomes incapacitated.

For many people, an ethical will is an important part of estate planning. An attorney could help a client draft an ethical will and other important estate planning documents.

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